3,600 intrigued souls turn out to tour Old Main

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - About 3,600 people walked through the halls of the Old Main at the Mohawk Valley Psyciatric Center Monday. It was open to the public for the first time in four years.

Organizers from The Landmarks Society of the Greater Utica Area were estimating about 1,000 people would turn out.

Some of the first visitors got the chance to sign a petition to keep the building open year-round.

That petition was pulled when the line got so long that it didn't look like they'd be able to accommodate the droves of people who showed up.

The last time the psychiatric center opened to visitors four years ago, 800 people took a tour. 

It would seem, intrigue is on the rise surrounding Old Main.

Groups came from as far away as Canada and from as close as Utica, all armed with the same piqued interest.

Rich Racioppa came with his family and he says the youngsters enjoyed it just as much as the adults.

"I've lived here my whole life and didn't have a chance to see this so it's something we run by for the Boilermaker so I wanted to get a chance to see it up close," 

He says he enjoys the architecture. He learned inside that the massive pillars out front were quarried in Stittville. 

History and mental health care are major draws. Several workers in the mental health field were lined up to see the history that sits inside the haunting building.

Christine Storms said, " I think we need to know about history and see history and know about people who were oppressed. We can be more sensitive top their needs going forward."

Judy Weakley from Poland said, " It's intriguing to me to check this place out and see what they did. I have seen pictures of the things they've used to keep individuals enclosed... like the adult cribs." 

Patients were sent away from the institution in 1978. That's when there was a national movement away from such institutions.

A huge draw for some people coming to the Greek Revival building built in 1843 is the supernatural. Many believe the building is haunted by some of the souls who resided there over the years. 

Whatever the reason, 3,600 people taking the tour, an extension of the hours because so many people showed up, and some 500 people being turned away as time ran out ...the petition to keep the doors open at Old Main at the Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center, has bolstered its case according to board members. 

TheLandmarks Society of the Greater Utica Area wants the site to become a museum.

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